Universal Service Fund (USF) awarded a contract worth Rs. 59 Million to setup telemedicine networks around Rawalpindi, Karachi and Multan, using the already deployed Broadband Networks. The contract between Oratier Technologies and USF was signed by CEO-USF, Parvez Iftikhar and Director (Projects) Oratier, Zia ul Islam on Wednesday in the presence of Federal Secretary IT, Mr. Saeed Ahmad Khan at the Ministry of IT.
The project was approved by the Board of Universal Service Fund, in it’s 25th Board Meeting chaired by the Prime Minister in his capacity of being the Minister of IT. The Prime Minister directed that steps should be taken to also include flood stricken districts like Nawabshah, Mirpur khas, Umerkot and Sanghar in the telemedicine network. Inclusion of cities of Bahawalpur, Rahimyar Khan, Rajanpur, DG Khan, Qadirpur, Shuja’abad Mianwali and Kharian is also being planned.
Through the project signed today, USF aims to demonstrate that the optic fiber and the broadband networks being funded can easily be used for providing e-healthcare facilities. Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Center- Karachi, Nishtar Medical College-Multan and Holy Family Hospital-Rawalpindi will be connected with 12 remote sites to set up three pilot telemedicine networks. Remote sites in the pilot project include Thatta, Dadu, Badin, Nowshehro Feroz, Chakwal, Talagang, Murree, Domail, Vehari, Khanewal, Lodhran and Muzaffargarh. Each of these remote sites will provide facilities of digital stethoscope, digital derma-scope, portable ultrasound, digital ECG and customized telemedicine software to the patients at their hometowns including video consultations with the specialists sitting in the three main hospitals.
As for the rest of the USF programmes, in broadband program, 256 previously unserved towns now have more than 334,000 USF-funded broadband connections. Subsidy winning service-providers are obliged to provide free broadband internet to all higher-secondary schools, libraries and colleges in their areas. So far 943 such educational institutions have been covered. In Optic Fiber Connectivity Program, 3,630 Kms of Optic Fiber Cables have been laid through subsidy contracts which will connect 102 unserved Tehsils with 6,523 kms of cables, mainly in Balochistan. To take broadband internet to the villages, USF has launched another Program. A pilot project of that program is also under implementation aiming to bring the most modern e-Services through broadband, down to the village level.
At this occasion, Secretary IT said that with such constant efforts, Ministry of IT will undertake more programmes in the future for the promotion of telecom related services. He said that he is also positive that this Fund will keep serving as a source of inspiration for everyone. He further said that Ministry will keep intensifying its efforts to promote ICTs for the sustainable technological development and prosperity of the country in the future as well.
Apart from Secretary IT, Additional Secretary IT, Mr. Nadeem Ashraf, Member Telecom, Dr. Ismail Shah and other high officials of the Ministry of IT and Universal Service Fund were also present.